MSL Partner Spotlight: Blockchain Blokes

This Week’s MSL Creator Spotlight looks at Blockchain Blokes, the Australian game designers behind Blockchain Bear Brawls, launching on the Mint State Labs platform.

Hi, I’m Peter Morales, CEO of Mint State Labs, and I’m here with game designers Luke and Ham from Blockchain Blokes.

blockchain bear brawls creators
Creators of Blockchain Bear Brawls

One of the things that first caught our eye with blockchain bear brawls was the art, Luke, can you talk a little about how you got into developing the artwork for the trading cards and your workflow.

Luke: It was mid 2021 when me and Ham were riding up a mountain, me on a bike that was closer to a push bike than a mountain bike and Ham on brand new flashy dual suspension. Ham mentioned he has always liked my art, which I have always done as a hobby rather than a profession. He mentioned he had been investing in crypto and that NFTs might be a good medium for me to get my art out there. I did a bunch of research after that conversation and it snowballed quickly into an obsession. Together Ham and I discussed on many bike rides how we might be able to bring value to my art and make something more than just a picture, but an experience.

My workflow for my art is 100% digital, I manage as much of it as possible on my iPad using an app called procreate, along with the apple pencil. I will do everything from sketches to the final artwork all within the one app. I also like to design motion graphics and vfx which is a very different process, however it requires some pre thought in my design before porting over to the computer and animating in after effects and applying vfx over the top. You can create some really amazing motion graphics when combining vfx and traditional hand drawn art.

Ham: I let the expert cover that.

When we started to develop content around the BBB universe, the entire MSL team got a kick out of the story. Can you talk a bit about the inspiration and the humor you guys seem to have in general?

Luke: I draw a lot of inspiration from video games and anime, those mediums inspire a lot of the art that I draw today. But the concept of Bear Brawls story and the design came from conversations that were taking place around us during the global pandemic. There were a lot of different opinions floating around, people who were nervous, people who were scared and those who were excited about new possibilities. I think you will find that me and Ham don’t take ourselves very seriously haha. So, the story was an opportunity to express what was going on around us without taking any particular side to sensitive topics, but more to express that it was a new world we were living in and it felt chaotic.

It’s the contrast in people’s opinions, views that felt so polarizing that inspired the Brawl Bears. Their design of the Bears reflects this in the contrast that they are cute and demented at the same time.

Ham: When Luke and I were working through the Bear Brawls concept, we didn’t want to just create a game, we wanted to create a meaningful and well thought out product. Yeah, we had nice art on cards, but who are these bears and why are they fighting? We want Bear Brawls to be a long-term IP and I feel the story really starts to create a unique and interesting universe.

At MSL, we know TCGs and blockchain make heaps of sense. It’s the first time you can trace the history of a card in the digital space and truly own a digital collectible. Can you talk about where you see the online TCG industry going in the next few years?

Luke: I think the great thing about TCGs moving to a digital platform is the potential it brings to the competitive scene. The ability to create virtual tournaments governed by blockchain contacts opens up a lot of opportunities, couple that with playtesting deck builds and testing combos, the competitive scene will explode. I think it also breaks down the silos for people who want to play competitively but may be limited by factors such as health or location.

The other aspect I think is really cool is the balancing of decks when things are done digitally. In traditional TCGs you have cards that eventually get banned competitively due to balancing. Making a TCG balanced is tough, but with digital TCGs the concept of rebalancing cards rather than making cards unable to be played competitively through banning or limiting what can be played, allows for the value to be brought back to the owner rather than devaluing it altogether.

Ham: You only have to look at other TCGs and their transition to creating some online versions of their experience to see the potential of what we can do with the genre. I love the concept of carrying a whole deck in your pocket on your phone, where you can build decks and test combinations on the go. Bored on the train? Get your mobile out and compete in some online tournaments. It’s really cool when you think about it, holding all your cards in a binder on your phone and not carrying around a huge folder. Sitting in a DR’s office saying I might just have a quick game of BBB. I also love the concept that each card can have its stats written directly into the metadata store on the blockchain. Being able to see the win loss ratios of a card and have it recorded, it gives this proof of value which I think will influence secondary sale markets and I’m really excited to see how we grow that concept and the data people will store in meaningful and exciting ways.

We know it’s taken some time to get the game out and we care about everything being perfect because blockchain tends to be final. After release, what are your hopes for BBB in the future?

Luke: I’m really excited to see where the meta in the game play goes. We play tested a lot to get things balanced, but I’m really keen to see what team compositions people make and what strategies people come up with. It’s exciting to see if someone can break the game with something unbalanced. The reason I say that is because then you get to evolve the game and branch out the possibilities.

There are two other things I’m really keen to for the future of Bear Brawls, a love for the IP through fan art and memes, and to see the competitive scene give birth and watch it grow. I know for certain that the end goal is to have a robust competitive scene with big tournaments, prizes and sponsorships, so I’m excited to start laying more to the foundation that will bring that vision to the player base.

Ham: Our dream is to have people across the world play the game, trade cards and love the product. As we grow, we want the community to help design and grow the franchise. We’re really open to community involvement in setting the direction that Bear Brawls takes. We love that we can set a foundation and then have the community build upon that. That is where you can sit back at the end of the day and see people using something you helped create and just sit there with a huge smile!

With a shared love for TCGs and similar values, what does a partnership with Mint State Labs mean to you?

Luke: When we first met with Mint State Labs It was very evident to me that we were meeting with an authentic team who are passionate about what they do. I have spent most of my career managing teams within a large organization and have seen what can make or break a team and lead them to success. It’s not always about what a team does right but how they respond when things go wrong, or not the way things were intended. I have seen this company approach difficult and unexpected situations with top tier response and come out the other end with better solutions than initially intended.

Mint State Labs haven’t just built a product for us, they have also continually added value, seeking innovative ways for us to refine our market product fit and optimize our market penetration. With aligned values and passion in what we are building, I’m looking forward to a long lasting relationship with Mint State Labs.

Ham: I always remember those first few meetings with MSL, there was a real authenticity to them and no BS. From there my view hasn’t changed, our collaboration couldn’t be more seamless. I know Luke and I feel part of the team and that we are working towards common goals and share the same values.

The big thing that stands out is the honesty and ownership, we have been working together for some time now and I have never seen a company evolve as swiftly as MSL. As part of that they have helped guide and mentor us to help evolve our brand and project. We look forward to continuing to grow together.

Thanks, Luke and ham; we really appreciate the time and can’t wait to play our long-awaited rematch!

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NFT Minting and grading service for creators to realize their dreams and collectors to fulfill theirs.